Curious why I’d move half way around the world to teach English? Sometimes I am. Sometimes I scratch my own head and stare at the ceiling as a thought bubble appears over my head (pictured below). There are, of course, many reasons for making a move like the one my wife and I have undertaken. We gave it some thought, and came up with a list of our top ten:
Obviously, adventure is easier to find in a foreign land. After all, simply being in a foreign country is something new and exciting.
Working in the Middle East pays well. I’m not even making what is considered very good money by local standards, but it’s more than I made at home by a long shot.
It is fantastic to be in a classroom, instructing students in something that’s useful and potentially important to their futures. I’d enjoy being a teacher anywhere.
The benefits of this particular job are good: housing that’s paid for; health insurance that has thus far covered all our needs without complaint; travel allowances for the whole family (a perk hard to find teaching outside the Middle East).
The UAE offers a location allowing inexpensive travel to many locations far too exotic to visit from the USA without breaking the bank–Sri Lanka, Africa, Turkey, Jordan, Thailand, etc.
Moving 7,500+ miles from home has a way of teaching a person to be both self-confident and self-reliant.
By the same means, being a long way from family and friends, the traditional support groups that we fall back upon when times are tough, forces my wife and I to become much more fully dependent upon each other. We’re a more tightly-knit, stronger family unit as a result of our move.
Magically, a thought bubble appears and, fortunately, it is an appropriate thought given that it is the end of the school day.
There is no experience quite like becoming accustomed to a new and totally different culture from your own. Acculturation, culture shock, and all of the associated trials can be really positive in terms of growth and maturity.
Developing new relationships with people of many different nationalities and backgrounds is an opportunity that would not be so readily afforded at home.
Traveling gives us a new perspective on our homeland and other places. It’s fascinating to look at home from a more objective angle than we get if we never leave. We appreciate both strengths and weaknesses better than before. What’s more, we can look at foreign lands in new light as we meet people and see places for ourselves. In some cases, it’s wonderful discovering that our viewpoints aren’t always the best ones.